In writing our chapter "Tattooing, Commitment, Quality, and Football in Southeastern North America" for Evolution Education in the American South, Cassie Medeiros and I hypothesized that tattoos would be more common among elite athletes to highlight their fitness or among non-athletes who were fit as an alternative way to advertise fitness (besides being an elite athlete). Our HBERG team then tested this using the Body Art Study Questionnaire (Mayers et al., 2002) via first a nationwide internet survey among undergraduates, then a survey of all 31,000+ University of Alabama undergrads. The first survey elicited around 600 responses but very few tattooed athletes among them. The repeat study elicited around 6500 responses and a full 50% of the UA intercollegiate athletes.
The article summarizing these findings, "Shirts or skins?: Tattoos as costly honest signals of fitness and affiliation among US intercollegiate athletes and other undergraduates," has been accepted by Evolutionary Psychological Science and is current in press. Several people worked on this project over the years, but the authors who ultimately pulled this together include Taylor Puckett (cleaned and set up data codebooks), Nick Roy (cleaned data, helped with analysis, and edited paper), and Mandy Guitar (developed the hypothesis we tested in Carmen et al. , and edited paper). We're grateful to work done along the way by Connor Fasel, Kat Beidler, and Kira Yancey, as well as the title idea by Rob Else.
We are allowed to provide an Author's Accepted Manuscript here for preview. Our findings were consistent with the Human Canvas Hypothesis (Carmen et al., 2012), an evolutionary hypothesis that suggests tattoos advertise fitness or affiliation:
To learn more, read our AAM here.
It's hard to keep up with everything going on around here, but the Human Biology Association publishes a podcast every other week that I co-host with Dr. Cara Ocobock from SUNY Albany. The newest episode "When It Rains, It Floods," with Dr. Asher Rosinger from Penn State is just up. This was a great conversation!
Check out all our episodes, including interviews with Mallika Sarma, Alex Brewis, Jo Weaver, Lynnette Sievert, Isa Godinez, Kathy Oths, Hannah Smith, Bill Leonard, Rieti Gengo, Andrea Wiley, Joe Graves, Mary Shenk, Siobhan Mattison, Morgan Hoke, Liz Holdsworth, Larry Schell, Sharon DeWitte, Nina Jablonski, and Sean Rafferty.
Max has been a member of HBERG since beginning his MA. He's been the lab manager, conducted fieldwork with Dr. Lynn and others in Costa Rica, co-authored two papers about the lab, built the dataset for the Family & the Field paper just published, and helped with the early development of the Anthropology is Elemental program. Congrats to Dr. Stein! His success is well deserved!!
We're pleased to announce that the first paper from the "Family and the Field" study is out in open access journal PLoS ONE. This was a collaboration between me, Dr. Michaela Howells of UNCW, and our newly minted HBERG PhD Max Stein. The first set of findings from this massive set of survey data indicates:
We're a little behind in our updates, so a few of these are dated...but without further ado.
This summer we ran a successful crowdfunding effort to fund the first half of a second field season to study Polynesian tattooing and immune response. I attended the Northwest Tatau Festival in Seattle/Tacoma, WA, where we collected data from 52 participants.
Next step is to gather the funds to analyze the samples!
Inking of Immunity Podcast
Dr. Christopher Lynn, Executive Producer/Cohost